Tuesday, November 20, 2012

(Archdiocese of Miami) Sandy relief headed for Cuba

Foto/ANA RODRIGUEZ-SOTO | FC
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(Archdiocese of Miami/Ana Rodriguez-Soto - Florida Catholic) MIAMI — A planeload of non-perishable food items — about 8,500 pounds — is on its way to the hard-hit Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba to help the Catholic Church there feed the people affected by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.

“This is an initial response to the devastation wrought by the hurricane in Cuba,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski during a press conference at Miami International Airport Nov. 19, an hour before the 10 a.m. flight took off. “This will allow the Church in Cuba to minister to the people that were most severely affected by the storm.”

The food — cans of tuna, Vienna sausages, Parmalat milk, rice, beans and other non-perishable staples — was collected by various groups in South Florida, including the Friends of Caritas Cuba, the LaSallistas (alumni of schools run by the De LaSalle Brothers in Cuba), the Municipios de Santiago en el Exilio (exile group composed of former residents of the various towns in the province of Santiago de Cuba), and the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, who have convents throughout the island.

The Archdiocese of Miami also took up a collection over the past two weekends at all its parishes to raise funds to provide aid to those hit by Hurricane Sandy not only in Cuba but also in Haiti and the northeastern U.S.

“We purchased the remaining food products so we could have the plane take off at capacity,” Archbishop Wenski said.

Miami Air Cargo donated the airplane and the pilots donated their time, he noted. The shipment would be received in Santiago by Santiago Archbishop Dionisio Garcia and representatives of Caritas Cuba.
Within the Archdiocese of Santiago, 100,000 dwellings were destroyed along with 13 church buildings.

“It’s a disaster that touches the heart,” Archbishop Wenski said, and a “tremendous challenge for the Church over there.”

He noted, however, that the Church in Cuba “has always sought to help its people from within its own poverty.”

“This is an opportunity for us to express our solidarity with the Church in Cuba,” he said.

He added that the archdiocese hopes to send more supplies at a later date, possibly by sea, which allows a greater quantity of items to be shipped at a lower cost.

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